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An Audit Report on Child Protective Services Funding, Direct Delivery Staff, and Disproportionality Efforts at the Department of Family and Protective Services

April 2013

Report Number 13-029

Overall Conclusion

The State Auditor's Office audited the Department of Family and Protective Services (Department) to determine whether the Department maximized and spent funds for caseworkers in accordance with selected requirements and complied with reporting requirements regarding its efforts to reduce disproportionality among children in the Child Protective Services (CPS) system.

The Department spent and transferred funds for CPS direct delivery staff as authorized by the General Appropriations Act. The Department was appropriated $420,875,517 for CPS direct delivery staff in fiscal year 2012. The Department transferred $79.3 million to a cost pool for indirect and shared costs across the Department's strategies and $1.9 million to other line items as authorized by the General Appropriations Act (82nd Legislature). From $332.6 million in appropriated funds, the Department spent $327.0 million (98.3 percent) on payroll and travel, which are reasonable costs for direct delivery staff.

In fiscal year 2012, the Department was appropriated 11,188.3 full-time equivalent (FTE) employees. The General Appropriations Act (82nd Legislature) allocated 8,109.9 FTEs to Strategy B.1.1 for CPS direct delivery staff. The Department allocated the FTEs to each of its 11 regions based on regional workloads.

The Department cut some direct delivery staff positions for fiscal year 2012. To address budget constraints, the Department reported it cut a total of 438.7 FTEs for fiscal year 2012 from its fiscal year 2011 totals, including 354 direct delivery staff FTEs. To preserve caseworker positions for fiscal year 2012, the Department added 46 FTE caseworker positions while it reduced support staff, caseworker supervisor, and senior/special investigator FTE positions. As a result, the Department was able to maintain the proportion of authorized direct delivery staff FTEs to non-direct delivery staff FTEs.

CPS caseworkers who changed jobs within CPS generally remained in CPS direct delivery support positions. In fiscal year 2012, CPS caseworkers who changed jobs within CPS generally followed the caseworker career track. Of the 191 CPS caseworkers who changed jobs within CPS in fiscal year 2012, 129 (67.5 percent) moved up to become CPS supervisors. CPS caseworkers also frequently became specialists (non-caseworkers), administrative assistants, legal liaisons, and human services technicians within CPS. Existing CPS employees who became CPS caseworkers in fiscal year 2012 came primarily from the following positions: CPS supervisors, specialists (non-caseworkers), administrative assistants, and human services technicians.

The Department also receives additional FTEs through an outreach program with counties to assist with paying for child protective services. As of November 2012, 10 counties provided 166.5 FTE direct delivery staff positions. Those positions included CPS caseworkers, court liaisons, and administrative technicians.

The Department has made efforts to address disproportionality issues; however, the loss of disproportionality specialists could slow its progress. The Department tracks the race/ethnicity of children in the CPS system and reports annually on the population, intakes, investigations, and removals of children in each race/ethnicity category for seven large, urban counties. The Department reported that African American children disproportionally enter and remain in the CPS system. To reduce or eliminate that disparity, the Department participates in several initiatives (see Section 3 in the attachment for more information about those initiatives). The Department believes that its efforts to address disproportionality have been hindered because it lost regional disproportionality staff in fiscal year 2012 to the Health and Human Services Commission's Center for Elimination of Disproportionality and Disparities, which was created in 2011. As of February 2012, the Department had no disproportionality specialists located in the regions.

In addition, the Department adopted a new methodology for categorizing race/ethnicity in its October 2012 Rider 17 report to be consistent with the Health and Human Services Commission's methodology. However, that new methodology may have the effect of understating the scale of the disparities that African Americans face in the CPS system. Specifically, the new methodology designates as "Hispanic" any individual with Hispanic ethnicity, regardless of race. For example, an individual of African American race with Hispanic ethnicity would be categorized as "Hispanic." Moreover, individuals with more than one race are identified in the "Other" race category. For example, in fiscal year 2012, the new methodology resulted in the reclassification of 457 African American children removed from their homes to "Hispanic" or “Other” race/ethnicities. In the October 2012 Rider 17 report, the Department reported its disproportionality statistics using both the previous and new methodologies.

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